COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ The Nashville Predators have no one to blame but
themselves for dropping to ninth place in the Western Conference standings.
Manny Malhotra matched his career high with two goals and the Columbus Blue
Jackets took advantage of two costly Nashville blunders in a 4-2 victory Monday
``Everything adds up,'' Predators goalie Tomas Vokoun said. ``We made a few
mistakes and it's 3-0 before you know it.''
Vokoun and defenseman Kimmo Timonen, both All-Stars, all but handed the Blue
Jackets goals in the opening period.
Seven minutes into the period, Vokoun came out of the crease to handle the
puck in the corner as Malhotra and Nashville defenseman Mark Eaton raced for
the puck. Vokoun got there first, did a reverse pivot and pushed the puck off
the side of the net. Malhotra, continuing to skate, picked up the puck in the
slot and was all alone in front of an empty net.
``I just got on my horse and fortunately he made a bad play back there and
gave me the gift,'' said Malhotra, a November waiver pickup from Dallas who has
career bests of 10 goals and 17 points.
After the goal, Vokoun hung his head and slowly skated back to the cage
while being taunted by Columbus fans.
``It was just my fault. It was a bad play,'' Vokoun said. ``When a goalie
makes a mistake, it's in the net _ and that's what happened.''
Malhotra made it 2-0 less than two minutes later on a power play. Malhotra
dropped a pass to Klesla, whose slap shot from the right point deflected off
the stick of a defenseman. Malhotra was crashing the net and found the puck on
his stick and his shot beat Vokoun over the shoulder, high into the net.
``It was just a juicy rebound laying there for me,'' Malhotra said.
Hundreds of hats were thrown on the ice at the 12:41 mark when it appeared
Malhotra had a natural hat trick _ thanks to another gaffe by the Predators.
With Nashville on the power play, Timonen had the puck behind his own net.
He nonchalantly carried it past the cage as Malhotra swooped in and
stick-checked the puck loose. It slipped away from Timonen and eluded a stunned
Vokoun, the puck sliding slowly into the net.
``Kimmo just put it in,'' Vokoun said.
As the hats were being cleared off the ice it was announced that Columbus
defenseman Jaroslav Spacek was the last Blue Jacket to touch the puck _
Malhotra had poked at Timonen's stick and not the puck _ and was credited with
``I knew right away that I hadn't touched it,'' Malhotra said. ``I forced
his stick, so he just kind of bobbled the puck. I knew right away it wasn't
Five harmless shots on goal, and Columbus had a 3-0 lead.
``It was not a prototypical game, that's for sure,'' Nashville coach Barry
Trotz said sarcastically. ``Misfortune sort of hit us, and we lost our momentum
_ or we gave them momentum. Obviously, they got their first goal and it just
kind of ignited the rest of the period. We lost the game in the first period.''
David Ling added his first goal of the season for the Blue Jackets.
Rostislav Klesla had two assists, and Marc Denis stopped 32 shots.
Greg Johnson scored his 10th goal and David Legwand added a short-handed
goal in the third period for Nashville, which had won all four meetings this
season and six in a row against Columbus.
``We got a couple of breaks,'' Columbus interim coach Gerard Gallant said.
``A couple of funny goals early in the hockey game made the difference.''